The accused were identified as V Murugan (24) of Hasthinapuram and R Balaji (24) of Cuddalore. While Balaji is studying law at a private university in the city, Murugan is working in a workshop in Chromepet.
They became friends when they attended a diploma course together in 2012. In the audio clip, the caller is heard threatening the complainant, a dentist named Harish, that his gang would create problems for him if he did not pay up Rs one lakh immediately. When Harish said he would not be able to arrange the money in such a short time, the caller eventually settled for Rs 50,000. Harish and his wife Vaishali lodged a police complaint, and four special teams were formed to nab the gang. By tracing the IMEI number of the mobile phone handset, police found that the same device was used to make similar threat calls to doctors in Selaiyur, Chitlapakkam and Sembakkam.
The police team also received crucial tip off from an informer, which led to their arrest. Murugan and Balaji initially refused making any such calls, but police found 12 call recordings on their phones in which they are heard threatening different persons. Police believe that they had rehearsed and improvised the extortion calls, even changing the tone of the voice to make it sound more mature.
“Their aim was to make money without getting caught. They would demand a small sum so that the victims would not approach police, and would assure the victims that it would be a one-time ransom,” said the investigation officer.
According to police sources, Murugan and Balaji wanted to support themselves and siblings without depending on their parents for financial support. That is when they came up with the idea of extorting money from wealthy people by threatening them over phone. Though police suspect that they could have extorted money from several others, none have lodged any complaints so far.
They were booked under Section 506(1) (criminal intimidation) and 507 (Criminal intimidation by an anonymous communication) of the IPC and remanded in judicial custody.